What's more important? Parental presence or top schooling?
February 15, 2014 10:49 AM Subscribe
Okay, this may well be a false choice but I'm trying to sort this out in my mind -- I see two roads ahead of us, one in which we stay where we are currently living -- an underwater house in good shape in a middling-to-poor neighborhood (but with adjacent nicer amenities) -- which is affordable and where we are making enough money to save for all the things we need to save for (retirement, college, cash savings, etc.). OR, we can buy our way into a nicer neighborhood and school district, keeping this house as a rental. Right now my husband and I are both working at well-paying jobs and our 3-year-old is in full-time daycare. My goal, when she starts kindergarten in 3 years, is to work 3/4 or less time, so that I am home with her after school and do to this for the rest of her school years.
posted by amanda to Work & Money (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So, I see it this way, if we stay in this house we have financial flexibility. However, it's a tiny house in a kind-of-crappy neighborhood with a bad elementary school and a middling middle school. There are currently some families nearby with kids her age which is a plus. We like our neighbors and the house is in good shape. We've discussed renovation but if we renovate, I don't see how we can leave anytime soon. If we stay here, we can lottery her into the nearby better schools and, if she doesn't get in, pay for private school. I really want either her Dad or I to be home with her after school and I think that I'll be able to swing that when the time comes. However, the likelihood of doing this relies on us being able to afford it, yes?
The other road is to, essentially, pre-pay our way into a better school district, which also means a nicer neighborhood (with sidewalks! and homes that aren't falling down! and maybe a coffee shop!) but we'd likely need to keep this house as a rental. Which means maintenance costs, prop tax rising on both properties every year, and a bigger chunk of our income going to our new mortgage payment. With both of us working full-time, I think we can do this, though we'd need to pay for after-care after school and I worry that my hope of being home with her in the afternoon wouldn't work -- we'd simply have too many expenses for me to take a pay-cut. Paying for retirement would be leaner but there is the hope that this little house we are in could be sold eventually for a tidy profit which can go toward college or retirement.
Anyway, in my mind, it boils down to this question: What is more important? A very good school, with likely increased out of pocket costs? Or a parent at home after the school day is done?
It's nice to have options right now -- after 4 years of underemployment, I'm finally gainfully employed at a well-paying job and so we can think about these things. But there's so many (expensive and varied) paths we could go that I'm trying to pick the things that are most important to me and work backward from there. Obviously, many times people have chosen education over parental presence (boarding school!) but she is our one and only child and I had both parental presence and a good education growing up so it's hard for me to choose between the two.